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Understanding the Connection Between Anger and Heart Attacks – Part 2

July 17, 2013

The depiction of someone who is mad suddenly falling over from a heart attack that we tend to see on television and in the movies is not so far from reality. An angry outburst is not guaranteed to result in a heart attack but it certainly raises the risk.

angry man yellingIn the article "Anger linked to raised heart attack risk," published by Reuters reports research conducted by a team at Harvard Medical School. The author of the study, Elizabeth Mostofsky is quoted as saying, "There is transiently higher risk of having a heart attack following an outburst of anger."

Of the 3,886 participants studied between 1989 and 1996, 1,474 said they had angry outbursts in the previous year and 100 said that they'd had an angry outburst within two hours before they had a heart attack. They were asked to rank their level of anger on a seven-point scale and those who ranked an outburst higher on the scale had a greater risk of heart attack. Study participants also reported on diet, lifestyle, exercise, and medicines they used.

James O’Keefe Jr., a cardiologist Reuters interviewed said, that while it is a commonly held belief that expressing anger and ‘getting it out of your system’ is best this is not the case: “expressing anger takes a toll on your system and there's nothing really cathartic about it” and that anger really damages the cardiovascular system.

At North Ohio Heart, we do our best to take care of our patients and their heart health and we encourage patients to do the same at home. Study participants cited family and work conflicts and commuting as primary causes for angry outbursts. It is important to find ways to minimize stress and look for ways to relax and unwind.


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